The Darwinian dynamic of sexual selection that Thorstein Veblen missed and its relevance to institutional economics
Jon Wisman ()
Journal of Institutional Economics, 2019, vol. 15, issue 1, 49-72
Thorstein Veblen was a pioneer in recognizing the necessity of grounding social science in Darwinian biology and exploring how evolving institutions channel biological proclivities. He especially focused upon how capitalism's social institutions guided the innate need for social status into conspicuous consumption. But why do humans seek status? Surprisingly, Veblen did not pick up on Darwin's concept of sexual selection and recognize it as the driving force behind behavior intended to favorably impress others. This article adds the Darwinian depth that Veblen missed to his understanding of the biologically driven quest for status and its channeling by social institutions. It then explores the turn of most institutionalists away from Veblen's focus on innate behavioral drives in favor of viewing human behavior as more exclusively determined by social conditions. It concludes with reflections on the implications of sexual selection and biological grounding more generally for a theory of institutional economics.
References: Add references at CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
https://www.cambridge.org/core/product/identifier/ ... type/journal_article link to article abstract page (text/html)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:cup:jinsec:v:15:y:2019:i:01:p:49-72_00
Access Statistics for this article
More articles in Journal of Institutional Economics from Cambridge University Press Cambridge University Press, UPH, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB2 8BS UK.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Keith Waters ().